THE 1991 Dodge Viper was one of the most spectacular muscle cars ever to emerge from the land of the free. Intended to be a spiritual successor to the AC Cobra, driving one was as intimidating as a walking through a forest at night that had been laid with man traps, and at 1,920mm (6ft 3in) wide, even mundane tasks like passing through width restrictors proved a squeeze too far.
Little wonder, then, that the 8-litre, V10 powered monster is such a rare sight on Britain’s roads. But at the Silverstone Classic event, held from July 29 to 31, organisers anticipate that as many as 30 Vipers will be paraded around the grand prix circuit and displayed for fans of muscle cars to get up close.
The original Viper, known as the RT/10 Roadster, proved too minimal in its pursuit of few frills and low weight. The roof and windows were effectively build-it-yourself affairs, prompting Dodge and its parent company Chrysler, to engineer an improved Viper just four years after it had gone on sale.
Its vast tyres (335mm wide at the rear), heavy engine (adapted from a Dodge truck) and equally heavy steering meant drivers needed serious muscle power to tame the muscle car. Or, as Jeremy Clarkson put it, in his original review for Top Gear, “For those who don’t want to pussyfoot around at two miles an hour in a solar-powered box, this is a dream come true, a throwback to the days when Cobras ruled the road and performance was king. This car kicks ass!”
To see how it’s done, car enthusiasts will need to book tickets in advance to the Silverstone Classic, which costs from £42. The show will not only feature cars, but a vintage funfair, air displays and live music, with The Boomtown Rats and The Stranglers adding to the retro feel.